Half of the cities in Japan might disappear; the reason is not Global Warming

  • When Malthus on his essay told that population is an ever growing phenomena, thus it is necessary to check it with positive and preventive measures, there was a small community of people who believed him. Two centuries later, here we are with more than enough reasons to disprove Malthus. This is the modern world problem, the problem of population decline, which is genuine and extremely hideous for a sustainable society. Developing and emerging economies are still fighting the issue of population growth while the advanced ones are facing a severe population decline. In this article, the advanced economy we are talking about is Japan. The land of rising sun is in stage 5 of the demographic transition graph. It is the stage where there is a low birth rate combined to a low death rate leading to a slow or gradual decrease of the population.


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    A huge concern for Policymaker

    How bad is the situation in Japan? Researchers have asserted even these advanced economies are facing the decline in population, they will gain back the momentum and rebound to an increasing level. One can support their claims since this pattern was seen in the United States where the population rebounded from a decreasing level. However, Japan is portraying an entirely different scenario. As per the data provided by World Bank, the population growth rate for Japan in 2017 was -0.2% whereas the fertility rate for 2018 was 1.42 births per woman. The growth rate has fallen beyond the replacement rate of 2.1%. Hence, the rebound suggested as above is highly unachievable. The decrease of the fertility rate is a current social issue. How sustainable can be the economy of a country if the population itself is not sustainable?

    People drive the country’s economy. These people are producers, manufacturers, workers, consumers, and customers. The current population is aging and unfortunately, a new set of people who could replace that loss of workforce is not available. In the past recent years, Japan is facing a serious issue of depopulation. Masuda (Jan 20, 2104), wrote in his report that because of the depopulating local cities, half of the municipalities in Japan are at the risk of disappearing by another two decades. Aging society, a primary concern in Japanese society results in a low fertility rate. There are not enough youths to counterbalance once the working population gets old. When a place becomes abandoned, other problems related to social and national securities also rises.

    Determinants of Low Fertility

    Several factors lead to a low fertility in Japan. Main is the late wedding. Study shows that some Japanese are even avoiding wedding. The number of individuals with a single status is very high. Late wedding directly affects the fertility rate as the women will not be using her full fertility span. It can be explained because of the social pressure regarding the role of wife and mother. Stagnating income can be another reason since childcare is costly and often scarce.


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    As the aging population is growing, it may be difficult for a family to take care of children and elders at once. A recent study by OECD shows Japanese men work massive hours and are therefore not helping with household chores. Thus, it can be very frustrating for a woman to be a housewife and be responsible for home works, children, elders, career, etc. These are some underlying factors that are the reason for low fertility.

    Policies Implemented to boost the Fertility Rate

    Many policies led by Japan are formulated and implemented to improve the status of fertility. Most of the families with both of the parents working are worried they won’t be able to provide enough time for their child. The Japanese government has encouraged young people to marry, by securing jobs since employment instability was one of the reasons behind the hesitation to marry. An article in Japan Times mentioned the government was extending matchmaking efforts through municipalities to encounter the increasing ratio of unmarried people.


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    “Ikumen” is “ikemen,” a campaign started by the government to encourage Japanese men to be responsible in the parenting role, can be seen as a commendable effort. To fully mobilize the campaign, the government is working to reduce the working hours for men so that they could spend time involved in household works. In my opinion, the government should make a policy to increase the number of infants and child nursing homes. The places should be subsidized and should be accessible for all kinds of income groups. These policies are a good start; however, it is to be seen how efficiently these advanced economies will solve the problem of a low fertility rate.